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VIRTUAL - Games of Chance and Fate: Patolli Game Boards from the Ancient Maya site of Gallon Jug, Belize

February 17, 2022 @ 7:00 pm EST

This is an online event.

AIA Society: Columbus

Dr. Claire Novotny (Kenyon College)

Graffiti provides a unique and informal perspective on the lived experiences and daily cultural practices of ancient people. In the ancient Maya culture, graffiti of ritual processions, human figures, and game boards were incised into plastered walls, benches, and floors in buildings that formed civic ceremonial centers. Game boards, called patolli, are particularly fascinating because they seem to combine leisure, gambling, and ritual practices. Patolli boards are found throughout Mesoamerica and we can draw on rich ethnohistorical evidence to make our interpretations. Recent research at the ancient Maya site of Gallon Jug, located in northwestern Belize, documented several patolli boards incised into a plaster floor on a platform in Courtyard B-01, an elite residential group. In this talk I will review our current understanding of patolli game boards and put them into context within the Maya world and Mesoamerica more broadly. I will address questions about how and why the residents of Gallon Jug may have used the patolli boards, and whether they were part of a singular ritual or a recurring strategy for divination employed by a resident ritual specialist.

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February 17, 2022
7:00 pm EST
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Katie Rask


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